Can a Solo Developer Exist in WordPress?

There’s been a lot of talk about companies, hosting companies specifically, buying up plugins. With all the consolidation, people have started wondering, out loud, if a solo developer can still exist in the WordPress ecosystem of today.

They note that there’s no formal method for such a solo developer to monetize their efforts. And how can they compete with the large teams that offer a premium plugin for just about every need.

I don’t know if it was planned or just lucky. But what I know is that back at the very beginning of this project, WordPress was delivered to people with two plugins – Hello Dolly and Akismet.

Everyone said that Hello Dolly was there to teach people how to build their own plugins. I have said, for more than a decade, that plug-in developers should have been looking at Akismet.

It shows developers how to build a service-based solution. It shows developers how to make a product free for personal use and monetize commercial sites. It shows developers how to built single-feature utility plugins and make money.

This whole time it has been sitting there waving at us. And we’ve ignored it.

Can a solo developer still make it? Without joining a host?

I think so.

But I don’t think it will come as a patreon-like sponsorship model. I think free plugins will continue to be developed. I think developers will continue to create plugins that scratch their own itch. And I think some plugins will chance their way into massive success without a strategy.

But if I were to chat with a solo developer today, I’d point them to Akismet and show them that they don’t need sponsors. They don’t need to worry about hosting companies. But they need to think about a monetization strategy from the start.

What do you think? Hit reply to the email, or find me on Twitter and let me know.

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